The Most Popular Stolen Photo In The World

I never know how to respond to my friends and colleagues who advocate for large-scale music file sharing. I think any justification of "the record companies are getting all the money" and "it only costs $.42 to make a CD" is disingenuous. In most cases, they’re stealing music because it’s easier and cheaper than paying for it. And the same thing goes for photography, which is why I have a personal stake in this argument. I’m not a celebrity musician whose livelihood is endangered due to low sales—and I’m not going to argue about whether file sharing is actually good for the music business. What I am is a photographer who understands how hard it is to earn a living when some people operate under the misconception that if it’s online, it’s free. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Case in point is this story about Noam Galani, a guy who made a really great photograph. The kind of photograph that resonated with a lot of people—a whole lot of people. That’s just the kind of picture we all would love to make, both for the creative achievement and because licensing an awesome photograph is a great way to earn a living as a photographer. Noam can’t do that, though, because his photograph has become ubiquitous on its own. It’s been passed around (from its original home on Flickr) so much that it’s practically worthless. It’s not the sharing of the image that’s so egregious, nor is it the appropriation of the image into a variety of public art projects and movements. The problem is when book publishers and other money-making ventures go about using his photograph to aid in their for-profit ventures. Without paying the creator a dime, it’s simple theft of intellectual property. But that’s too often how business works, these days, and it’s a real shame. Check out the video at Fstoppers to form your own opinion about the costs and benefits of our file sharing world.

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